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Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – A park wide pavement preservation project is getting underway in Glacier National Park for paved surfaces throughout the park EXCEPT for the Going-to-the-Sun Road. All secondary roads, campground loops, parking lots and pullouts NOT on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) will be chip sealed this summer, park officials announced today.
According to Jim Foster, chief of Facility Management, funding for pavement preservation is available to Glacier through a combination of cyclic maintenance funds and Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP) funds. Glacier was in line for the funds in 2010 and declining would mean a seven year wait for the funds to be available again. Many of the park’s roads and parking lots are in need of preservation work and park managers believe irreparable damage will occur if the work is delayed until 2016.
Chip sealing is a cost-effective way to provide a new surface and to preserve the underlying pavement for five to seven years. The project will cost approximately $5,000,000. The contract was awarded to Hardrives Construction, Inc. of Billings, Mont. The process takes three steps: 1) applying the chip seal (or micro surface in turnouts and parking lots), 2) applying a fog seal 24 hours later that reduces chances for airborne gravel 3) striping the roads and parking lots at the end of the project. In addition to preserving the pavement, the restriping part of the process will allow the park to improve handicap-accessible parking by better locating spaces and widening access for other accessible parking spaces.
Project engineers stress that the air temperature must be a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit for chip sealing. Therefore, the project can only be completed during the hottest months, July and August. Preparation for the project including filling holes and crack sealing is underway. Chip sealing starts Monday, July 12 and should be finished by late August. The striping and cleanup is scheduled to be done by Friday, September 17.
“There is never a good time to tackle infrastructure improvements especially when work needs to occur during the primary visitor season,” said Foster. “Overall, this is a ‘win-win’ scenario for the park and its visitors. Glacier's roads have not been chip sealed in more than ten years and so we are on the verge of losing many sections of them. The Federal Highway Administration assures us that there will be minimal disruption or inconvenience to park visitors and park roads will be greatly improved. We are fortunate to have both this funding and this project come our way.”
Foster further added, “The Sun Road and its associated roads and campgrounds are NOT part of this chip seal project because we do not want to add to existing visitor impacts from the Sun Road rehabilitation project.”
He explained that the actual chip sealing is a moving operation with contractors able to seal six to ten miles a day. Visitors can expect flaggers at both ends of a work zone with pilot cars moving traffic through at a controlled speed. When chip seal work starts in mid-July drivers may experience short delays (5 to 15 minutes) on the roadways, reduced campground access for up to two hours, and restricted access to parking lots for up to 24 hours. Advance notice will be provided at each location to minimize inconvenience to area visitors.
There may be limited loose gravel following chip sealing for up to 24 hours, but traveling at or below the road’s posted speed limit is expected to minimize the potential for the smaller-sized chips to become airborne. Some minor noise and short-term odor is associated with the process, but far less than paving operations. To help lesson visitor impact, crews will not work at night between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. or on weekends or holidays.
To assist visitors with planning their trip a two week projected schedule and map will be updated weekly and posted to Glacier website at https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/chipseal2010.htm.
Current road conditions are available by calling 511, the Montana Department of Transportation Traveler Information System. If a phone does not support 511, call 1-800-226-7623. Both numbers are toll-free. Select “Glacier Park Tourist Information” from the main menu to hear Glacier’s road report. Travelers may also call park headquarters at 406-888-7800 for current road and weather conditions.
- NPS -